Physical Inventory – Accuracy vs. Timing

There is a fine line between what information is helpful to capture, versus what is practical. To better understand this, there are two competing factors in conducting a successful physical inventory.

These are ACCURACY and TIMING. Accuracy is the single most important factor in performing a physical inventory.

However, timing is also very important. Timing matters as the longer the physical count takes, the more opportunity there is for conditions to change. Timing also matters as the longer the project takes, the potential for disruption to normal business operations increases.

All that being said though, building and maintaining momentum for the inventory team’s progress is paramount. Information capture can have a serious impact not only on timing but also on momentum. Gathering information while conducting an inventory can be difficult based upon availability of reliable information without introducing any delays and for recording of the same.

Keeping in mind that inventory personnel are using small handheld data collection devices, the screens are fairly small and the more manual entry and screen navigation the user has to do, the longer the process requires.

Furthermore, getting information must be quick. You don’t want to have to depend upon speaking with people in order to gather information while you are counting assets.

Consequently, it makes sense to limit data capture to sources that are readily available and somewhat constant such as manufacturer’s serial and model numbers, location indicators such as building, floor and office and perhaps custodian to name a few.

Also keep in mind that human beings can introduce errors when typing. This can ranges from typos to spelling errors, etc. While there are processes and quality assurance procedures designed to mitigate this (these take time), human beings introduce potential human errors. These are a few examples that can not only slow down a physical inventory, but impact accuracy as well.

In the next blog, we will discuss methods to avoid these pitfalls.

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